There are significant differences of opinion as to how close the 49ers and the Broncos are to completing a Colin Kaepernick trade, but there is already a considerable amount of potential fallout to consider if the deal is ultimately consummated. Let’s have a look:
- Denver reportedly wants to pay Kaepernick $7MM of the $11.9MM he is guaranteed for 2016, with the 49ers kicking in the $4.9MM balance. As Andrew Brandt of TheMMQB.com reminds us, NFL teams cannot trade cash as a MLB or NBA team can. Instead, the Niners could turn part of Kaepernick’s salary into a signing bonus, pay it, and then trade him (Twitter link). If the 49ers were to go that route, the team would eat $12.29MM in dead cap room in 2016, per Spotrac (via Twitter). Although that is hardly an ideal scenario, it’s not as though the 49ers couldn’t afford it. According to Spotrac, the club has just shy of $57MM of cap space.
- Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk proposes a creative solution to the reported holdup in contract talks between the Broncos and Kaepernick. Florio suggests that Kaepernick should forfeit the $4.9MM difference between what he is owed and what Denver is willing to pay, and in exchange, Denver should wipe out the remaining four years of his “notoriously team-friendly contract.” Of course, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, while that solution has its merits, it would put the 2017 Broncos in the same position they are in right now. Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com tweets that Kaepernick would certainly be justified in taking a paycut if the Broncos were willing to tear up the remainder of his contract.
- Of course, if Kaepernick ends up with the Broncos, Denver will need to make some tweaks to its current roster regardless of how much it ends up paying Kaepernick (after all, the club only has $1.62MM of salary cap room at present). As Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com writes, the team has to do something with Ryan Clady, and although the Broncos have been trying to trade Clady, interested clubs are not inclined to pull the trigger on a trade because they are fully aware of Denver’s tight financial situation. Instead, the Broncos may have to release their long-time left tackle in order to create $8.9MM of space. The Broncos could also release punter Britton Colquitt, thereby clearing over $3MM off the books, or they could convert the base salaries of some of the larger contracts on the team–like those for Demaryius Thomas, Aqib Talib, and Chris Harris–into signing bonuses, which would afford the team some 2016 cap relief.
- Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com says a Kaepernick trade would be highly beneficial for the Jets, because if the trade happens, Ryan Fitzpatrick will lose his last potential suitor (Denver) outside of the Jets. As such, Fitzpatrick would either have to accept New York’s “low-ball offer” of $7MM per year, or not play at all. Theoretically, San Francisco could be in the market for Fitzpatrick’s services if it deals Kaepernick, but there have been no substantive rumors regarding that possibility.